We believe William Shakespeare’s Juliet when she proclaims; ‘That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.’ Roses are among the most romantic, fragrant and beautiful flowers to be grown in a garden. To most people the smell of roses evoke memories of bygone days, perhaps spent in their grandparents garden.
But we are not very fond of modern roses. For some reason they seem a bit out of place in our wildlife friendly, slightly overgrown garden. We do not have the time for careful pruning, feeding, watering and dealing with diseases they seem prone to. But who can imagine a garden without roses? There are endless culinary and medicinal uses for them, along with their beauty and the benefits to wildlife. So in the early spring of 2013, a couple of months after moving in, we ordered a lot of bare-root wild roses from Future forests in Cork. The beautiful field rose, Rosa Arvensis is now slowly covering the road bridge across the stream and a stunning pink Rosa Rubrifolia Glauca is slowly increasing in size on the bank of said stream. Rosa Rubriginosa, the sweet briar is a lovely shade of light pink, and has a slight and delicate scent. Last month we enjoyed the beautiful bloom of the Burnet rose, Rosa pimpernelifolia. We found all these varieties suited our garden perfectly, and being single flowered, very useful for bees and other insects.
Last spring we thought it would be great for us and all the pollinators we wish to attract to the garden if we planted some ramblers and scramblers to grow up our trees and across the stream so we bought a “New Dawn” to arch across the stream in the two ash trees we have bent down and connected. In another big ash we planted the beautiful, yellow ”Wedding Day” that slowly fades to white as the flowers age. To grow up the larch we choose “Paul’s Himalayan Musk”, a small flowering cluster rose with a fresh, beautiful scent.
We also found an old groundcover rose at a local nursery, with a scent like old-fashioned cold cream and a useful spreading habit, along with a pink, strong old-fashioned climber that we do not know the name of, but which are often found covering old Irish cottages, even long after their inhabitants are gone. It is now growing in a few locations around our garden, but it is not yet in flower this year. But if you look closely you will find that even the buds of roses can be worth resting your eyes on.
This year we had to cut down some old spruce that were becoming unstable in our woodland and that left us with a lot of space to fill with deciduous trees and climbers. We recently got a rambling rector and a sweet smelling beauty by the name of Madame Alfred Carriere, a rose with big cream colured roses tinged with pink. These are both reliable strong climbers that we hope will bring years of pleasure to us, and any visitors to our garden, humans and wildlife alike.So as you can see we are slowly moving from the wild and untamed towards more cultivated forms of roses. We belive this is as far as we will go. But who can know for sure? We might fall for some old moss rose like the beautiful old pink moss from the 1700-hundreds or the Apothecary’s Rose, Rosa gallica officianalis from the 1600-hundreds. And really, what harm could it be? Surely we have room for them all?